Thursday, October 4, 2012

Coriolis Effect

Thinking deep thoughts once again...
The other night I was looking at Leo's ass (hey, it was that or Angel's baseball) and observing the little spirals of fur on each of his butt cheeks.  They look like tiny little butt-fur hurricanes.
The question occurred to me; if I take Leo to the southern hemisphere, will his butt hair spiral in the opposite direction?  Calls for study.  I think I should apply for a grant.

Yellow Gazpacho?

Just because I'm weird...
We have had a tomato plant sprouting little yellow pear tomatoes like there's no tomorrow.  Running out of things to do with them, Denise decided to cook a bunch up one weekend afternoon.  I ran them through the food mill to separate out the skins and what not, leaving a nice yellow tomato juice/sauce.  Ended up canning about a pint and a half of sauce.  Tonight I finally decided it was time to do something with it.
So, into the sauce I added...
  • One Red Bell Pepper, finely diced
  • 1/2 Hot House Cucumber, seeded and finely diced
  • 2 Medium Jalapenos, seeds and veins removed, very finely diced
  • Small Red Onion, finely diced
  • 2 Cloves Garlic, finely minced
  • Kosher Salt
  • Fresh Ground Black Pepper
  • 1 Tbsp (or so) Picante Pepper Olive Oil from the Temecula Olive Oil Company
  • 1 Tbsp (or so) White Vinegar
Served with a little toasted sourdough and a glass of wine.  Pretty tasty.

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Happy Independence Day!

I hope everyone has a wonderful Fourth.  I intend to celebrate in quintessential American style;
  1. For starters a steamed espresso (OK, that's Italian);
  2. Followed by a Bloody Mary (originated in Paris, named after an English queen, made with vodka distilled in Holland);

    Short aside re Bloody Marys...

    ...I start all mine in the same fashion; I forget to salt the rim. I grab a glass throw in some ice, lemon juice, maybe the vodka and then - DOH! - forgot the damn salt. Everything into a holding pattern while I reset, salt the rim and then everything back into the glass. IDK why. This just is and always has been the case.

    While that little example of mixicological ineptitude is bothersome, my greater concern is with the salt itself. Once upon a time, my sister gave me some coarse, Whole Foods brand, chili-infused salt. Many Marys later, the salt is nearly gone. What am I to do when the supply is exhausted? Mimosas? God forbid! Never having been to a Whole Foods, not even knowing where the nearest one is, I'm a little nervous. Do they even carry chili-infused salt anymore? Shoot, I might need to concoct a recipe of my own.

    Sorry, back to the subject at hand.  Where was I...?
  3. Oh, some "from-scratch" pastrami (Romanian);
  4. Barbecued (now THAT's American - with roots in the Caribbean and elsewhere) ribs and chicken, to keep the pastrami company in the smoker;
  5. Potato salad (Wikipedia lists styles from Brazil, Bulgaria, Czech Republic and Slovakia, Germany, Italy and Romania, but no reference to the Estatos Unidos - I guess American-style potato salad is just a given);
  6. Beer (Germany probably gets most of the early credit) - actually a double IPA (HA! Californian!);
  7. Pie (originated as far back as ancient Egypt and Greece) for dessert, Strawberry-Rhubarb (which is pretty darned American);
  8. Wash everything down with some good old Kentucky bourbon (totally American, apart from a little flirtation with secession back in the 1860's);
  9. And capping things off in true American fashion I'll see if I can put an eye out with some cheap black market pyrotechnics (actually, that might be Chinese.)
Ah, America, the melting pot.  Happy Holiday!  Don't put your eye out.


Post Script:  Deviled Quail's Eggs

Added a little appetizer - note the dime for scale.  Didn't want you to think I was sneaking in chicken's eggs.

Saturday, April 7, 2012

Holy Mackerel

Rock cod actually.  I suppose I shouldn't be making holy mackerel references on Good Friday (someone might slap me up side of the head with a crucifix), but oh well.

I made a trip through my local Asian market yesterday morning, looking for nothing in particular and coming away with an assortment of the kind of obscure stuff one can find in an Asian market...quails eggs, tempeh, an entire rock cod.  I've been in this place before and have always been intrigued by the stuff in their refrigerated case.  All manner of whole fishes, head-on shrimp, pigs ears, hearts and assorted other organ meats.  The Korean-style short ribs look awesome, but were in short supply yesterday.  I ended up settling on a whole fish as my project for the day.

Kinda big for the wok!
Having already made my purchase I realized I didn't know if it was the environmentally appropriate choice.  Monterey Bay Aquarium lists rockfish as either a "Good Alternative" or "Avoid" depending on the method of catch.  The store did not specify the method and since I could barely understand the counter guy when asked if I wanted the fish cleaned (I didn't, why let him have all the fun) I'm not sure he would have been much help.  I'm going to assume line caught and keep a clear conscience.

Anyway, once at home I pulled out my Asian cookbooks and started hunting for recipes for whole fishes.  I ended up online and found a Thai Steamed Fish for which I conveniently had all the ingredients; lemongrass, ginger, garlic, spring onions, soy, fish sauce, etc, etc and so forth.*

Prepped for the steamer

Sadly, the big guy was too big for my wok, way too big for my steamer basket, so it was off with his head (and tail) and into the stock pot which will probably end up in some Vietnamese style fish soup tonight.  Reminded me of that "Fish Heads" song on the old Dr. Demento radio program, but that's another story.

Once assembled, a little lemongrass sauce and assorted herbage on top, the thing went into my steamer atop the wok.  One little hiccup, as the fish started to cook it sort of began to flex and pushed the lid up off the wok, letting out my steam.  I laid a few wet kitchen towels around the rim of the wok lid to re-seal and capture the steam.  That seemed to do the trick. 

After about twenty minutes worth of steaming the result was...nothing short of magnificent.  Well, actually quite a bit short of magnificent, but damn tasty none the less.  And ultimately pretty simple, once I worked out the logistics of how I was going to get the thing steamed.

The photo does little justice
Presentation may have suffered somewhat due to the decapitation and docking.  That didn't stop us from devouring it.  Next time, perhaps a smaller fish.

* A small bit of trivia: that's a line from "A Puzzlement" in The King and I, in which Yul Brynner plays the king of Siam, which is to say Thailand, so etcetera is a perfectly acceptable Thai ingredient in my mind.

Thursday, March 29, 2012

London Calling

Yes, tonight it was London calling, er, broiling, I should say.  Some of you may recall way back in early May of 2011 the arrival of our CSA beef.  At the time I mentioned that it might last us a whole year and it appears that should not be a problem.  Here it is almost April and we still have a rich assortment to choose from.

Tonight I was in the mood for a steak, not really because I was particularly hungry for steak, but because it's relatively easy to monitor calorie intake with a meal that consists mostly of just a big hunk o' meat.  Anyway, once home from work I went rummaging  through our chest freezer until I found something roughly akin to a steak and it turned out that that was a London Broil.  Nuked it on defrost mode for a bit, then dropped it into an IPA-soy sauce bath to soak while I responded to Leo's urgent pleas for a walk.

Post-walk, back at the ranch, I threw some sweet potatoes in the steamer, CSA mixed greens and arugula in the rinse and spin cycle and fired up the grill.  While the meat grilled, I sauteed up some mushrooms in virgin olive oil (from ugly olives), added a bit of butter, then splashed in some Worcestershire sauce.  A little chipotle powder mashed into the potatoes, some crumbled blue cheese and dressing on the salad and voilà, a meal fit for a queen.

The leftovers are already in a steak salad for lunch tomorrow.

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Faux Pho

An apparent impending sore throat convinced me that some chicken soup was in order this evening.  Typically in my case that means Chinese Hot and Sour Soup, but tonight I had a boat load of basil, bean sprouts and rice noodles left over from the fresh Thai spring rolls I made on Saturday evening, so I decided to make something along the lines of Pho.  Having neither recipe nor clue, I just decided to fake it.

So, I sauteed some carrots, celery, green onion, chopped lemon grass, grated ginger, diced chicken thighs and about four of those litte green Thai chilies (the really HOT little bastards,) in a little oil with a splash of sesame oil.  Added a bunch of chicken stock, a little each of fish and soy sauce, rice noodles, bean sprouts and basil.  At the last minute I threw in a few leftover frozen shrimp.   Garnished with chopped cilantro, more green onions, bean sprouts and (in my case) some extra Thai chilies soaked in fish sauce.

I may have slightly overdone the Thai chilies; about blew the top of my head off.  But overall, it was pretty delicious.  We'll see if it cures the sore throat.

Saturday, March 24, 2012

Another New Beverage

Some may remember in the ancient history of this blog, the Pink Taser, a cocktail developed partly as a joke and partly as something unique to bring to a dinner party with friends.

Well, tonight the second of what is supposed to be a series of dinner parties ensues and in keeping with the now long established tradition, I have decided to concoct another new beverage.  Thai cuisine is on tap for this evening, so I started with a little research on Thai cocktails.

I little Googling brought me to Mekhong, the Spirit of Thailand, which seemed promising as a possible starting point of experimentation.  Referred to as whiskey, it looks to me decidedly more like rum.  A moot point, since, sadly, my local BevMo did not carry Mekhong.  I settled instead for a six-pack each of Singha and Chang, two of the top three beers in Thailand, according to some site Google found, so it must be true.

Still, beer seemed a little boring, so I decided to embrace my inner mixicologist.  After browsing a couple recipes for inspiration, I settled on the following, which, like last time, I am creating and testing immediately after breakfast.

As-Yet Unnamed Thai-ish Cocktail

1-1/2 ounce vodka (I'm using Ketel they grow potatoes in Thailand?)
1 ounce lemongrass simple syrup
thin slice fresh ginger
splash of sparkling water (or not, depending on your tastes)

Lightly muddle ginger with ice in a cocktail shaker.  Add vodka and syrup.  Shake.  Pour contents into glass.  Garnish with slice of ginger and a piece of lemongrass stalk.  If you drink it now it tastes a little like a gingery Lemon Drop martini. 

Top off the glass with sparkling water for a lighter, more refreshing beverage.

Lemongrass Simple Syrup

1 cup water
1 cup sugar
2 stalks lemongrass, cut into short pieces and smashed with a mallet

Bring everything to a slow boil until sugar is completely dissolved.  Cover, steep lemongrass overnight.  Strain liquid and discard lemongrass (I squeezed out any leftover juice from the lemongrass to get as much lemongrassy flavor as possible.)

Optional Accessories?

Chilies - I think this would benefit from a few "waffer-thin" slices of fresh green Thai chilies for a little zip, but alas, all my Thai chilies are currently of the dried red variety.

Thai Basil - A tiny bit of basil, muddled with the ginger, would turn this into something more like a Thai Mojito.

Lime Juice - several Thai cocktail recipes called for lime juice, but I was a little afraid of overpowering the lemongrass.  I think all I had to fear was fear itself (and maybe lime juice on a paper cut.)

Will have to try all of the above at some point, but not today...I need to go work with power tools.

Wish me luck.